Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressive Congress (APC) to show love to Nigerians by immediately announcing a comprehensive travel restriction to only two entry points for travelers coming into the country and nationals from countries that have confirmed to have over 100 cases of the deadly Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19.
The operators made the call yesterday after a meeting with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria’s Representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), port health personnel and chief executives of airlines and helicopter operators to develop and implement measures to prevent the influx of the virus into the country as well as curb its spread.
Capt. Nogie Meggison, the Chairman of AON said that it bothers his group that Nigeria was the only country that was yet to take drastic step against the spread of the deadly virus. According to him, other countries of the world will shut its doors against Nigeria if the country records more cases. He said, “We can say for sure that if the situation escalates in Nigeria other countries of the world would not hesitate to stop us from flying into their country.
“Nigeria is about the only country in Africa yet to take a decisive action in putting in place strict measures to stop the inflow of the virus into our shores. We can say for sure that if the situation escalates in Nigeria other countries of the world would not hesitate to stop us from flying into their country. We therefore appeal to government to stand tall by putting Nigeria first at this time and take an immediate action by restricting travel into Nigeria.
“May I propose that government should immediately reduce entry points into the country to Lagos and Abuja airports only. This will allow for effective deployment of critical medical support staff and utilization of thermal scanners and other resources as well as promote proper monitoring of those entering the country through our airports by members of the port health that are already overstretched,” said Meggison.
He argued that reducing the number of entry points is a sure way to effectively contain the spread of the deadly virus adding that AON members were ready to transport the passengers to their destinations from the two entry points. He cited the examples of sister African countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Guinea, Angola, Morocco, Chad and Tanzania that had taken action so far. He also called on the ministry of aviation to take a cue from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by directing the various agencies under its supervision to immediately put in place and extend critical palliative measures to Nigerian airlines to mitigate the colossal loses they have suffered and continue to suffer from the impact of the virus on air travel.
Again he said, “Just yesterday (Monday) the CBN issued a statement acknowledging the adverse impact of the virus on the global and Nigerian economies and announced a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments of intervention loans effective March 1, 2020; reduced interest rates from nine to five per cent per annum for one year; and created a N50 billion targeted credit facility to cushion the impact of the virus on businesses. Similarly, therefore, we use this medium to call on the aviation agencies through the ministry of aviation to follow the same path by taking action to support domestic airlines that are the drivers of our national economy.”